Rome: Far-right protesters clash with riot police over covid-19 curfew

Forza Nuova protest against Italy's "health dictatorship" in central Rome.

Rome witnessed violent scenes in Piazza del Popolo and the nearby Flaminio neighbourhood last night, 24 October, as far-right protestors clashed with riot police for around an hour.

A crowd comprising about 200 members of the neo-fascist Forza Nuova party had gathered in Piazza del Popolo at 23.00 to protest over the restrictions imposed by Italy's "health dictatorship" and the curfew in the Lazio region.

It was the militants' second time to gather in the piazza. The previous night - the first night of Rome's new curfew to curb the spread of covid-19 - passed without incident.

However on that same night riots in the southern Italian city of Naples, also under curfew, made international headlines.

Calls were issued on social media for Rome to follow Naples' example in challenging the curfew, with Forza Nuova leader Giuliano Castellino reported as saying: "We refuse to accept that the virus is around one minute before midnight and the next minute no."

The protestors in Rome let off tricolour fireworks at exactly 23.59 and the trouble kicked off when police implemented the Lazio region's curfew restrictions by clearing the piazza at midnight.

Piazza del Popolo last night. Photo Adnkronos.

The officers, pelted with projectiles and flares, responded by chasing dozens of masked protestors through the old city gates into Piazzale Flaminio, away from the shops on Via del Corso and Via del Babuino.

There were violent clashes in the surrounding streets, with protestors in balaclavas setting fire to rubbish bins and motorcycles. One masked protestor threatened to cut the throat of a reporter filming the scenes.

At least 10 people were detained by police, reports Italian newspaper La Repubblica, with two officers sustaining injuries.

Similar clashes on a smaller scale occurred in Trastevere and Testaccio, leading to the arrests of at least five people, reports La Repubblica.

The violence took place the same day that Italy registered 19,644 new coronavirus cases, a record high.

Italian premier Giuseppe Conte insists he does not want to impose a second blanket lockdown, saying such a move would cripple the nation's already fragile economy.

However the government has been in talks all weekend, with Conte set to announce new restrictions at 13.30 today, 25 October.

Cover image: TGcom24 Mediaset

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Address Piazza del Popolo, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

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Rome: Far-right protesters clash with riot police over covid-19 curfew

Piazza del Popolo, 00187 Roma RM, Italy